Lest you think that these toddlers were well up for punching their friends in the face, one child (now an old man) who participated says that he remembers half the boys saying they didn't want to fight, only to be told by their war-weary fathers to "shut up and be a man." See, that is the problem with this generation of two-year-olds: They aren't expected to be manly enough. While organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics want to coddle our special snowflakes and say that they "vigorously oppose" boxing as a sport for children because of the risk of "chronic" or "fatal" injuries, it wasn't that bad. A press photo from the time assures us that there was "little in the way of bloodshed."
In 1923, Popular Science asked its readers:
How would you like to own your own hand-power jitney balloon, to spend your Saturday afternoons joyriding in the sky, up a thousand feet or so, swinging beneath the round belly of a small gas-filled bag and traveling anywhere you can induce the playful breezes to take you?
That ... sounds terrible. Right? We're not the only ones who see a giant flashing neon sign telling us to run away? A thousand feet up? "Small gas-filled bag"? "Playful," aka suicidally strong, breezes? We're sorry, people of 1923, were the newly invented automobile and airplane already getting boring? Look, we don't want to accuse old-timey people of being stupid because they were old-timey, but seriously? Nutcases.
But well-dressed nutcases, dammit.
Amazingly, some people really thought this was a transportation breakthrough, and that soon we would all be floating around under own private gas-bags. But you won't be surprised to know that it was ridiculously dangerous, even for people who knew what they were doing. One early enthusiast was a Royal Air Force parachutist named Dobbs. You would think a man who trained other people how to safely bail out of planes would be the perfect person to get others interested in this new form of entertainment. And he did try, for a few years at least, putting on demonstrations for the public, hoping they would all run out and buy their own balloons and he wouldn't be so alone up there. But it kind of puts people off when you manage to die right in the middle of showing off how awesome and safe your new toy is, which is exactly what Dobbs did.